Last summer, Indy Mellink, a Dutch card fan, explained a game to her cousins when she asked herself why a king should be worth more than a queen?
Encouraged by her father, the 23-year-old forensic psychology graduate decided it was time to break with the centuries-old practice of sexual privilege while playing card decks that rate males above females.
“If we have this hierarchy that the king is worth more than the queen then this subtle inequality influences people in their daily life because it’s just another way of saying ‘hey, you’re less important,” she said in an interview. “Even subtle inequalities like this do play a big role.”
She crafted a genderless deck after a lot of trial and error in which the representations of a king, queen and jack were replaced with gold, silver and bronze.
The first 50 decks of GSB (Gold, Silver, Bronze) cards, which have pictures of gold bars, silver coins and a bronze shield, were picked up by friends and family. Mellink made more and started to sell them online.
She sent out about 1,500 packs within a few months, including to Belgium, Germany, France and the United States. Game stores have shown interest as well, she said.
Mellink checked players with the cards, who claimed they had never been aware of sexual discrimination in the decks before. It’ll take some getting used to switching.
“It is good that we reflect on gender neutrality,” said Berit van Dobbenburgh, head of the Dutch Bridge Association, while playing with the new cards. It would be complicated to make a formal switch because that would require updating the rules, she said.
“I wonder if it’s worth it. But gender neutrality, I am all for it! It’s great that someone of this age has noticed this. It’s the new generation.”